Racial and socioeconomic disparities in the efficacy of a family-based treatment programme for paediatric obesity

Genevieve M. Davison, Lauren A. Fowler, Melissa Ramel, Richard I. Stein, Rachel P.K. Conlon, Brian E. Saelens, R. Robinson Welch, Michael G. Perri, Leonard H. Epstein, Denise E. Wilfley

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3 Scopus citations


Background: Family-based behavioural weight loss treatment (FBT) is an evidence-based intervention for paediatric overweight/obesity (OV/OB), but little research has examined the relative efficacy of FBT across socioeconomic status (SES), and racial groups. Method: A total of 172 youth (7-11 years; 61.6% female; 70.1% White, 15.7% Black; child percent OV = 64.2 ± 25.2; 14.5% low-income) completed 4 months of FBT and 8 months of additional intervention (either active social facilitation-based weight management or an education control condition). Parents reported family income, social status (Barratt simplified measure of social status) and child race at baseline. Household income was dichotomized into < or >50% of the area median family income. Race was classified into White, Black or other/multi-race. Treatment efficacy was assessed by change in child % OV (BMI % above median BMI for age and sex) and change in child BMI % of 95th percentile (BMI % of the 95th percentile of weight for age and sex). Latent change score models examined differences in weight change between 0 and 4 months, 4 and 12 months and 0 and 12 months by income, social status and race. Results: Black children had, on average, less weight loss by 4 months compared to White children. Low-income was associated with less weight loss at 4 months when assessed independent of race. No differences by race, social status or income were detected from 4 to 12-months or from 0 to 12 months. Conclusions: FBT is effective at producing child weight loss across different SES and racial groups, but more work is needed to understand observed differences in initial efficacy and optimize treatment across all groups.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12792
JournalPediatric Obesity
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • childhood obesity
  • family-based treatment
  • health disparities
  • income
  • race
  • weight loss


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